THE TIN WOMAN to Premiere at Peninsula Players, Begin. 6/17

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THE TIN WOMAN to Premiere at Peninsula Players, Begin. 6/17

Peninsula Players Theatre, America's Oldest Professional Resident Summer Theater and Door County's theatrical icon, opens its 79th season June 17 with the world première comedy "The Tin Woman" by Sean Grennan. The Players premièred another of Grennan' s comedies "Making God Laugh" in 2011.

"The Tin Woman" is a heartwarming comedy centered on a young woman who receives an unexpected heart transplant and the still grieving family who made the donation. The play opens in the hospital after Joy's sudden surgery.

"The idea came from my sister, Erin, who saw an article about a woman who got a heart transplant and eventually met the family of the donor," said playwright Sean Grennan. "From there it took off into directions that I hadn't anticipated. It also happened at a time in my life when I was personally dealing with a lot of upheaval. I had some serious health issues, and my wonderful father-in-law declined and passed. For me, and for a lot of writers, things in your life push their way into your work."

"The Tin Woman" is under the direction of Tom Mula, who directed the Players world première of "Making God Laugh," and features fellow Player veterans Erin Noel Grennan as Joy; Joel Hatch and Kristine Thatcher as Jack's parents, Hank and Alice. Rounding out the cast are Matt Holzfeind as the heart donor, Jack; Erica Elam as his effervescent sister Sammy; and Carol Kuykendall playing two roles, Joy's nurse and Darla, Joy's best friend.

Hatch's credits include the Broadway productions of "Annie" and "Billy Elliot." He was last seen at the Players in "You Can't Take it With You" and "Arsenic and Old Lace." Seven years ago, Hatch premiered in "Adding Machine: A Musical" at Next Theatre in Evanston, Illinois, which eventually ran Off-Broadway garnering him an OBIE and a Lucille Lortel Award.

Thatcher returns to the Players stage where she was last seen as Eliza in "Pygmalion" and Agnes in "Dancing at Luhgnasa." Thatcher has directed several productions at the Players and is a playwright whose works include "Emma's Child," "Voice of Good Hope," "Under Glass," "Among Friends" and "Niedecker." Peninsula Players commissioned Thatcher to write a piece about the unique character and rich history of Door County and in 1995 the Players premiered her play "Apparitions." Last year Thatcher was nominated for a Jeff Award for her solo performance in "Underneath the Lintel" at First Folio Theatre in Chicago.

Erin Noel Grennan ("Making God Laugh," "Miracle on South Division Street," "The Game's Afoot") returns to the Players and is cast as Joy, the young woman who wasn't expecting to live. Her regional credits include work at Cincinnati Playhouse, BHT, Drury Lane, Geva, Mercury, Theatre At The Center, First Folio Theatre, Totem Pole Playhouse, Chicago Shakespeare, Borealis and The Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, Ireland.

Elam ("Born Yesterday," "Panic") returns to the Players after a stint in Los Angeles and travels with Second City. Holzfeind played the title role in "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at Bailiwick in Chicago and joins the Players from a recent production of "The Fox on the Fairway" at New Theatre in Kansas City. Kuykendall's credits include Off Broadway in "Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating & Marriage" and was Chita Rivera's standby for "The Visit" at The Goodman in Chicago.

Mula celebrates his 20th season with the Peninsula Players. He performed in many plays including "Opus" and "Chicago" and has directed "Making God Laugh," "Amadeus," "The Lion in Winter," "Around the World in 80 Days" and "Greetings!"

The design team for "The Tin Woman" includes scenic designer Sarah E. Ross ("The Nerd," "Once a Ponzi Time"); costume designer Pamela J. Rehberg ("Making God Laugh," "Opus"); lighting designer Steven R. White ("Making God Laugh" and "Saloon"); sound designer Nick Keenan ("Panic," "Sunday in the Park with George"); and making her Players debut, properties designer Amanda Herrmann.

Keenan has designed more than 140 shows in the Chicago area including "Lost in Yonkers" at Northlight and "The Piano Lesson" at Court. Ross is properties director at Paramount Theater in Aurora, Illinois and a freelance scenic and costume designer in Chicago where she has designed for American Blues Theater, The Second City, Paramount Theatre, 16th Street Theater, Writers Theatre, Theater Wit and Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Herrmann is a Chicago based props master and worked with Lifeline Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, Griffin Theatre, Northlight Theatre and Rivendell Theatre. Rehberg's recent credits in Milwaukee include "Midnight Cry" at First Stage and "The Detectives Wife" at Chamber Theatre. White's credits include "The Detective's Wife" at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre; "Laughing Stock," "MilWonky Style," and "Ruined" at UW-Milwaukee.

"'The Tin Woman' sort of took its own course in the early going," Sean Grennan said. "I started out thinking it might be a romantic comedy, but other issues that were more relevant to me kept insisting on being heard. With this, and most of my shows, I think I'm looking at what it means to be human, to be people in families, to be here for a short time, like that. Getting to my age I've had the opportunity to look back a bit, to see more and more of the arc of my life.

"While I really don't know the answer, I think if there is any meaning in life to be found at all, it's in connection, that we need to connect to each other, to help each other, or just be in touch. Those moments and exchanges seem the most important to me now. Check with me next week..."

"The Tin Woman" is sponsored by Ministry Door County Medical Center and the Wisconsin Arts Board.

Peninsula Players has been entertaining and exciting audiences since 1935, when the theater opened behind the Bonnie Brook Motel in Fish Creek on July 25, with Noel Coward's "Hay Fever." The company was founded by a brother and sister team, Caroline and Richard Fisher, who dreamed of an artistic utopia in the north woods where actors, designers and technicians could focus on their craft while being surrounded by nature in a contemplative setting. Peninsula Players moved to the theater's present location along the shore of Green Bay in 1937.

Prior to performances, patrons picnic and relax on the grounds while watching the setting sun over the waters of Green Bay from the cedar-lined shore and enjoy the ambience of the Beer Garden and other gardens.

The Peninsula Players perform Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7:30 p.m.; with a 4 p.m. matinee Sunday, July 6.

Individual and group tickets are also available. Individual ticket prices range from $35 to $44. There are no performances on Mondays. For more information or to reserve tickets phone the Peninsula Players box office at 920-868-3287 or visit the website at www.peninsulaplayers.com.

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